Every week at my home church has a time of discipleship known as the infamous “Friday Class.” Students and veterans alike gather for 4 hours to discuss the ministry. Everything is open for discussion and moderated by our pastor. I am very grateful for this.
As we worked to help start the church, I have not only been able to benefit from my own experience of situations as they have arisen, my own successes and failures, but also from all of those working along side me.
On top of that, others pass through and participate from dozens of other countries, cultures, and churches, and we are able to learn, not only from the experiences in our church-planting experience in my own culture, but from those involved in ministry from around the world.
It is a unique blessing to be a part of.
So, it was in this context that I was given last minute advice as we left from 14 veterans present, with well over a century of combined experience, (and at least 15 more non-veterans listening in.)
Advice for starting to live and work in another culture:
- Don’t neglect anyone: Keep contact list of people that we meet and info to follow up with as we get more comfortable in the country and closer to starting the first church.
- As you learn the language, memorize verses and tell them to LOTS of an ever-growing route of listeners.
- Let people in America be a part of the journey with us through good communication.
- Expect bad days and struggles. It is common to man.
- The rules don’t change when you change locations. Same doctrine. Same people. Same truths. Continue in them.
- Don’t adapt the Bible. Communicate it where they can understand, but He didn’t write it for Americans and it does work other places, so you can trust it without having to change it.
- Don’t get caught up in all the small stuff, do the important work of the ministry.
- Don’t lose sight of the big picture and the rest of the world. Work as a team to see it accomplished.
- If you learn the culture you will love the people. Study to be quiet and be slow to speak.
- Be careful when you are blindsided by things you didn’t expect.
- Look at things from their perspective before you try to come up with a quick answer.
- Keep your private life with diligence. Take attention to thyself.
- Don’t substitute the ministry for your family. Protect them from the junk that will be around you.
- Live a disciplined hard working life. 60-70 hours and then relax.
- Since Lori is so nice, she will let me get away with not taking care of her as I should. Buy her nice appliances, etc. etc. Take care of her!